OKLAHOMA – ‘Oklahoma’s Most Endangered Historic Places’ exhibit is on temporary display at City Hall this week.
Since 1993, Preservation Oklahoma has recognized historic sites across the state at risk of demolition or deterioration, raising awareness of the need to protect Oklahoma’s historic resources.
While inclusion on the list does not guarantee protection or funding, it can be a key component in mobilizing support for the preservation of historic sites.
“It shines a brighter spotlight on a structure within a community that really allows a community to rally the troops so to speak,” said Preservation Oklahoma Executive Director David Pettyjohn.
The 2016 List of Oklahoma’s Most Endangered Historic Places are:
- New Deal Structures, Statewide (Focus on Chandler Memorial School Building): 2016 marks the 81st anniversary of the Works Progress Administration legislation and today, many of the structures constructed during this time have fallen into disrepair. One such building is the Chandler Memorial School Building. Completed in 1942, the building is the largest WPA-built school in Lincoln County and is constructed on native stone exhibiting the Moderne influence.
- Apuckshunubbee District Choctaw Chief’s House, Swink: The oldest remaining site in the Choctaw Nation, the Apuckshunubbee District Choctaw Chief’s House was constructed in the 1830s. The cabin was allegedly constructed for Choctaw Chief Thomas LeFlore as a stipulation in the treaty that removed the Choctaws to Indian Territory. The house is a significant representative of early log construction in Indian Territory. It features hewn logs with square notches, stone chimneys, and a dog trot arrangement.
- Vannerson Homestead, Erick: The Vannerson Homestead is one of the few remaining early settlement homesteads in Beckham County. Dugouts and sod houses were the most common housing form during this settlement period as building materials were in short supply. The Vannerson Homestead is a rare property in Oklahoma as it has two extant half-dugouts on the property.
- First National Bank Building, Stratford: The First National Bank Building in Stratford is a great example of the small building in downtowns that have failed to thrive following introduction of a highway that bypassed the downtown itself. Although the restoration of the building was started to house a historic museum for Stratford, history has shown that small-town historic museums do not fare well in this day. As the building continues to stand empty, the risk of damage (due to vandalism and damage to the property) increases and the loss of the building becomes more and more imminent.
- Mid-Century Architecture, Statewide: Mid-Century Modern Architecture is known for its unique style and distinctive design elements. These unique characteristics have also presented a challenge to the proper rehabilitation of these important structures. An example is the Abundant Life Building in Tulsa designed by Cecil E. Stanfield. The 1957 building originally served as the Administrative Office of Oral Roberts University. Today, the building is vacant and plans have been presented to drastically alter its exterior.
- Rock Shelter Sites, Statewide: For thousands of years people in Oklahoma took shelter from the elements under natural rock overhangs. These overhangs provided shelter ranging from a few square feet for dry sleeping to enough area for a fire, food storage, and a place to make tools and supplies. Rock shelters are found across the entire state, from southeastern Oklahoma to the Panhandle, and may have been occupied for just a few nights up to several months. Rock shelters contain some of the oldest undisturbed archaeological deposits in Oklahoma.
- Oklahoma Iron Works Building, Tulsa: Located in Oklahoma’s petroleum capital, the Oklahoma Iron Works Building is important for its association with two companies that played a vital role in the production of oil field equipment widely used in the state and beyond. Originally part of a much larger plant, a portion of the building was first constructed in 1911 as Oklahoma Iron Work’s foundry and then greatly expanded over the next twenty-seven years.
- Oklahoma State Capitol, Oklahoma City: Designed by Solomon Andrew Layton, the Oklahoma State Capitol was completed in 1917 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. In 2014, Governor Mary Fallin signed legislation that provided $120 million in funding to address many needed repairs. Since that time, extensive work has been completed on the building. While this is welcomed news, more funding will be needed to property restore this important Oklahoma building.
- Quanah Parker Star House, Cache: Built around 1890, the Star House was built for renowned Comanche warrior, leader, and statesmen Quanah Parker. Relocated to its current location in Cache, the home is visited by people from all over the world.
- Route 66, Hydro to Bridgeport and William H. Murray Bridge: In western Oklahoma, the section of Route 66 from Bridgeport to Hydro is considered distinctive since it marks a change in geography by providing the first glimpse of the western plains. The section also contains the William H. Murray Bridge, also known as the Pony Bridge (due to the truss system it uses). Completed in 1934, the bridge is one of the most distinctive bridges of the road in Oklahoma due to its massive length.
This is the fourth year in a row that the State Capitol has made the Most Endangered list, even with all of the renovations it’s undergoing.
“We kept it going on to continue the discussion and to continue the awareness and we are very happy to announce beginning several years ago when money was appropriated on the exterior, this last year additional funding was appropriated,” Pettyjohn said.
All of these sites and many examples of mid-century modern architecture like the Abundant Life Building in downtown Tulsa are on exhibit at City Hall.
The William H. Murray Bridge is in disrepair right now, but it once was a Route 66 favorite that left an unforgettable impression on travelers.
“That was their first image of the plains. When they come over that hill and look to the west, that was a major change of topography, so it introduced people to that next stage in travel,” Pettyjohn said.
Previous sites that made the list but have since been torn down include the Union Bus Station and Stage Center.
Other sites that made the list in the past, like the Gold Done in Oklahoma City, were saved through public efforts.
“And, by using this endangered places list, they are able to say, look, this is raised to a statewide level. This is going all over the state. That shows why this building is important,” Pettyjohn said.
The traveling exhibit will be at City Hall until Friday before moving to Guymon.